The second week in October is designated as Prisons Week, and saw the launch of the Report of the Caritas Leeds Criminal Justice Inquiry which has been co-chaired by The Rev. Dr Joseph Cortis (Caritas Leeds Co-ordinator) and Tom Chigbo (Senior Organiser, Leeds Citizens).
Bishop Marcus commissioned the Inquiry two years ago and in addition to his Pastoral Letter for Prisons Sunday which was given on 11 October, formally launched the findings to the Diocese in a live-streamed and recorded ‘virtual’ event from 2pm until 4pm on Monday 19 October.
The Bishop spoke on the importance of Justice and Mercy: why Catholics should take action on this issue. He was joined online by Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner, presenting the need for change and reform in the criminal justice system.
Other speakers at the launch included Kate Brooksbank from Restorative Solutions whose work involves supporting victims of crime for whom justice is achieved through opportunities to enable the perpetrator of the offence against them to be faced with the grave hurt they have caused and the true impact of their crime. This process of Restorative Justice can lead to understanding and even forgiveness.
Chris White is Catholic Chaplain at HMP Leeds and provided some profound insights into his work with prisoners and their families and there were also be other testimonies, including one from Wayne, an ex-offender who has found healing and rehabilitation through his faith community.
One of the Commissioners whose expertise was sought in the Inquiry is Jane Daguerre (Director, West Yorkshire Community Chaplaincy Resettlement Service); she explained some of the challenges faced by charities and other third-sector organisations with a mandate for all those whose lives are affected by the criminal justice system.
This ‘virtual event’ was live-streamed and recorded on the Diocese of Leeds YouTube Channel, Leeds Cathedral Live.
Inquiry Co-chair, Tom Chigbo is a parishioner at Our Lady of Unfailing Help Parish as well as being Senior Organiser for Leeds Citizens. Tom was interviewed on BBC Radio Leeds’ Sunday Programme on Sunday 18 October 2020, and is available to ‘listen again’ for 30 days after transmission from 2:41:53 to 2:50:09 (08.41 to 08.50 hrs).